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Problem tenants and how to deal with them

Problem tenants and how to deal with them

Sadly, as a landlord you will always run the risk of renting to problem tenants.

Whether it’s problems with damage to the property or missing rent, knowing how to handle difficult tenants can often become a bit of a nightmare for landlords.

Hopefully you’ll never encounter these problems, but having a clear understanding of the complex rules of tenants rights, and knowing exactly what you can and can’t do can help you protect your property and your rights as a landlord. We’ve developed a handy guide to help you be aware of potential problems which can be caused by tenants and equip you to deal with them:

How to avoid problems with your tenants

Before you even start renting, there are certain things you can do to avoid problems further down the line.

  • Run a background check on potential new tenants. Making sure that their ‘Right to Rent’ status is in order and obtaining a reference from a previous landlord should raise any red flags and help you avoid problem tenants from the outset.
  • Have an updated inventory of your property and its contents. This is especially important for landlords renting a property which is fully furnished. If your tenants do cause damage to the property, having an up to date inventory is invaluable.
  • Check your tenancy agreement. Before the tenancy commences, it’s worthwhile taking the time to ensure that your tenancy agreement is legally sound in order to avoid problems and additional expenses later. If you’re unsure about your agreement, having a solicitor who specializes in property law have a look at it is always a good idea.

What are potential problems with tenants?

Even if you’ve done everything possible to prevent it, problems with tenants can still arise. Understanding common problems which may occur can help you spot any early warning signs. Typical difficulties with tenants can include:

  • Damage to your property and/or furnishings. While general wear and tear can be expected during any tenancy, sometimes this can become destruction of the property. Establishing boundaries early on about certain policies, including whether pets are allowed and if you’ll allow certain home improvements (like painting walls or hanging pictures) can help. Also carry out regular inspections of the property to ensure you can take action where necessary.


  • Noise complaints and problems with neighbors. No one wants a noisy or disruptive neighbor, and if you’re the landlord complaints can often fall to you to handle. Talking to the tenants and explain the situation is a good place to start in these instances.


  • Rent arrears If you’re dealing with a tenant whose rent has fallen into arrears things can be difficult. Start by keeping a record of when rent payments are due and when they are paid and sending receipts to your tenants after payment to avoid any confusion. If after several days the rent hasn’t been paid, try calling your tenant before making a formal request in writing.


  • Refusal to vacate the property once the tenancy has ended. Tenant unreliability can often cause problems if you have a new tenant ready to move in. Legally, the tenant is entitled to stay until the are evicted, so begin taking steps to start the eviction process rather than changing the locks.


  • Renters subletting without checking whether it’s allowed. Not only is this illegal in some areas but can also cause problems with the neighbors and threaten the safety of your property. In order to prevent your tenants from playing host to all, be specific about house guests in your lease.


  • Unreasonable requests. While you’re obligated as a landlord to ensure that the property is well maintained, occasionally you might be issued with a request which you feel is unreasonable. Again, being clear in your lease agreement about your responsibilities as a landlord can help prevent this problem from occurring.


  • Tenants who are willing to break the law are more likely to cause you problems eventually than others. If you come across tenants engaging in illegal activities, eviction and informing the police are your best options.

How should I deal with problem tenants?

If the worst does occur and you find yourselves facing any of the above problems, don’t panic. Although you’ll be feeling frustrated, remember you’re not alone when it comes to dealing with these types of issues.

When problems first arise, start by communicating clearly, politely and firmly with your tenants and explain why their behavior isn’t acceptable. Hopefully in most instances this should be enough to resolve any problems and get your tenancy back on track.

Regardless of whether you have difficult tenants, having a clear communication policy can help you have a productive relationship with them, and make the whole letting process easier for you both.

However, if you are dealing with a difficult tenant, keep written records of everything you do and all correspondence between yourself and the tenant. If you find yourself facing legal proceedings, these records will provide evidence of your professionalism and attempts to resolve the issue.

If all else fails, you may need to look at evicting your tenant in order to regain control of your property.

If you have any questions about managing your tenants, or looking for some additional support, get in touch today and haart can help.